Equity crowdfunding has grown to become a leading form of alternative finance. Yet, this popularity has led equity crowdfunding platforms, like Crowdcube and Seedrs, to become saturated ‒ there are now hundreds of active campaigns at any one time.
Such a large selection of strong campaigns makes it difficult to cut through the noise. So, how can small, early-stage companies compete and win over investors?
1) Video; tell a story clearly, and not look expensive or overly creative
Pitch videos are essential as they quickly communicate the key aspects of your pitch, get across the look and feel of your brand, and provide that important human connection. Investors are often put off if they think you’ve spent a fortune on the video – so scale back on the flash effects.
Consider your brand and core selling proposition. Are you big and bold or subtle and sophisticated? Are you selling a product or service? What are the key benefits or differentiators of your business?
Then consider what investors want/need to know. Is it the size of your market? A gap you’ve identified? Perhaps you have some high-profile investors?
Finally, work with a production company to pin down how you are communicating what. With this clear in your mind, it should be possible to find low-cost ways to create an eye-catching video.
2) Offer unique rewards that don’t cost the earth
Offer people something unique and they will contribute. We recommend offering rewards at specific levels of contribution and making the contribution amount an odd number. For example, £1,700. Investors will usually contribute a round number anyway and the point of perks is to encourage slightly higher investment amounts.
One of the best things about rewards is they don’t have to cost a fortune. As an example of a low-cost yet effective perk, one of our clients, NextUp Comedy, offered investors membership subscriptions to their platform as a reward, helping the company raise 123% of their target amount.
Consider what makes your business unique.
Do you have an original product or service? Perhaps you are connected with some influential or famous people?
Identify your options and consider which are feasible and realistic, which investors might want, and which will cost you the least.
Ideal perks provide investors with additional value or an experience that money can’t buy.
3) Host an interactive investors webinar
Investors appreciate the opportunity to ask questions. Unfortunately, written questions and answers can often be misinterpreted or can miss the point. A much better way to answer questions and address concerns is in person. Hosting an investor event is often one of the first ideas that come to entrepreneurs, but events are expensive.
Instead, we’ve found that a well-planned webinar can achieve the same result of informing potential investors and allowing them to meet the founders. The best time to run a webinar is around the middle of your campaign. Potential investors will have had time to read your proposition and investigate the market, and you should have received over 50% of your funding target by that point.
Plan your event at the very start of your campaign for around the middle of your campaign and publicise it using an Eventbrite (or similar) page relatively early on.
Then take note of the questions investors ask during the first half of your campaign and build the webinar to address these concerns.
Finally, make sure there is plenty of time for questions at the end of the webinar. Never make things up ‒ if you don’t know, say you’ll check and provide a more detailed answer.
Bonus tip: Record the webinar and send it out as a campaign update.
4) Make every pound work twice with a dedicated PR campaign
Hiring a professional PR agency is likely to be one of the more expensive options on this list, but the difference it makes can be astounding. Additionally, every pound spent on PR works twice as hard ‒ raising brand awareness and gaining you investors in one go.
Good PR can position the founder as a thought-leader with unique insight and your company as one worth investigating.
The ‘trick’, counterintuitively perhaps, is not to make it promotional. Think about what the readers want, not what you want. As long as you include a bio and summary of your business, you’ll end up with a nice little byline next to your article title and promotion of your business in the footer.
Perhaps this may not feel like enough to draw in investors, but trust me, it works.
Consider what advice or expertise you could offer that’s related to your business. What might others want to know? What might they need to know in order to want to invest? Do you have a unique story you can offer?
If, during your crowdfunding campaign, you committed to all of the activities listed above, you could spend as little as £2,000 to publicise your campaign.
In our extensive experience running equity crowdfunding campaigns, that £2,000 will result in an extra 20% or so of campaign funding. Even for campaigns at the smaller end of the scale (<£150,000) that could work out to as much as £30,000 in additional investment.
A small investment in your campaign could, therefore, result in a big increase in the investment you gain!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
John Auckland is a crowdfunding specialist and founder of TribeFirst, a global equity crowdfunding communications agency that has helped raise in excess of £17m for over 50 companies on major equity crowdfunding platforms, with a greater than 90% success rate. TribeFirst is the world’s first dedicated marketing communications agency to support equity crowdfunding campaigns and the first in the UK to provide PR and Marketing campaigns on a mainly risk/reward basis. John is also Virgin StartUp’s crowdfunding trainer and consultant, helping them to run branded workshops, webinars and programmes on crowdfunding. John is passionate about working with start-ups and sees crowdfunding as more than just raising funds; it’s an opportunity to build a loyal tribe of lifelong customers.